To the editor:
On Dec. 27, the Review-Journal published an article regarding burials at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery (“Burial delays aplenty at veterans cemetery in Boulder City”). As superintendent for the cemetery, I thank you for your interest in America’s heroes and wish to clarify some of the information in your article.
It is true that this cemetery is the second-busiest state veterans cemetery in the nation. However, the examples cited in your article do not give a fair and accurate picture of time lines, which are affected by the considerations and circumstances family members must balance in their decisions to determine when their loved one can be buried.
Once the cemetery staff is notified of a veteran’s passing, we begin work immediately to schedule services which can meet the family’s needs. But we must be notified in order to assist the family with scheduling. That notification comes from the family or the funeral home.
For example, your article began by stating Thomas Marion died on Sept. 14, but services were not held until Dec. 26. While these dates are accurate, you did not mention that our cemetery was not contacted to schedule his burial until Dec. 11. This delayed notification is not uncommon, and in fact, in the examples you gave in your article, my staff was not contacted to schedule services until months after the veterans passed away. Additionally, the article simply did not take into account the individual concerns of each family when planning services so that family and friends have the best opportunity to attend. Each ceremony is unique to the needs of the family.
As we do not consider one veteran more important than another, some services are scheduled further out, most often to accommodate the attendance needs of those who wish to pay tribute. On occasion, however, we cannot accommodate requests for immediate burial. However, even during peak periods, we are currently able to schedule burials within two weeks. I stand by the timely efforts of my staff in addressing the unique situation of each family in determining the best time available to pay honor to one of America’s veterans.
I would also like to take this opportunity to invite the general public to our weekly unaccompanied ceremonies to help us honor those veterans who are not fortunate enough to have family members who can attend. Unaccompanied services are held every Thursday at 8:40 a.m. in the cemetery chapel. For additional information please visit www.veterans.nv.org.
CHRIS J. NAYLOR
The writer is superintendent of the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.